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In the wellness space, we hear this word quite a bit: holistic. So what does holistic really mean? By definition, holistic is to consider a whole thing or being, to be more than a collection of parts. In medical terms, it’s to treat a whole person rather than just the symptoms of a disease (Oxford Learners Dictionary, 2023). So in simpler MULTI terms, because we’re all about simplicity here, if we want to talk about treating our skin, we have to treat ourselves as a whole rather than just targeting our skin. That’s no surprise seeing as we are always preaching all the axes (gut-skin axis, gut-brain axis, brain-skin axis) and how everything is connected. So who better than Dr. Bryant Esquejo, ND, to educate us on achieving healthy skin holistically. 


WHO IS DR. B

We refer to Dr. Bryant, allllll the time. Prepare to be SICK of him! Just kidding, we can never be sick of Dr. B here. Dr. Bryant Esquejo is a licensed naturopathic provider helping us tackle our health concerns holistically. Whether you connect with him on social media or his website, he is paving the path and teaching the world how the body works, and educating us on how we can achieve healthy skin holistically. Also, he just got featured in Vogue! 😱

As Dr. B says, your skin health is a reflection of your inner health. In order to achieve healthy skin, it is important to identify the underlying causes and triggers of your skin issue. From Dr. B’s experience, some major themes that support people's journey towards healthier skin include: 

  • Following a skincare routine to support the skin from outside-in
  • Being mindful of skin nutrition & lifestyle practices to support skin health from the inside-out

SKINCARE FROM INSIDE-OUT

The best foundation for your skin is not determined by tiktok reviews, it’s determined by how you nourish it from within via your diet/nutrition and your lifestyle. Therefore gut health is essential when trying to support your skin health. Remember: supporting gut=supporting skin aka supporting your gut-skin axis. 

Gut health is all about supporting the gut microbiome (aka your gut’s bacteria ecosystem) and supporting optimal digestion. If you’re still unsure what a microbiome is, we got you covered here.  Studies have actually linked gut bacteria imbalance to acne (Clark, Ashley K et al., 2017), eczema (Reddel, Sofia et al., 2019), rosacea (Searle, Tamara et al., 2020), psoriasis (Hidalgo-Cantabrana, C et al., 2019) and more. So if you don’t believe us, believe Dr. B when he says supporting your digestion plays a huge role in changing your gut bacteria!


Gut Support

You always hear about how fibre is good for your gut bacteria– but how? What does your gut really do with the fibre? Your gut bacteria eats and ferments the fibre and creates postbiotics such as Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) (Chambers, Edward S et al., 2018). People with eczema appear to have depletions of gut bacteria responsible for the production of short chain fatty acids! (Reddel, Sofia et al., 2019)

Your gut bacteria also loves antioxidants. Akkermansia muciniphila is a probiotic bacteria that is considered a “keystone” gut bacteria as it helps reduce inflammation in the gut to support gut health (Li, Jin et al., 2016). This probiotic found in the gut loves antioxidants, specifically concord grapes (Roopchand, Diana E et al., 2015) and cranberries (Anhê, Fernando F et al., 2015). Other sources of antioxidants are: blackberries, goji berries, turmeric, cacao nibs, black rice, broccoli, and salmon. A way Dr. B gets his antioxidants by putting a cup of blueberries into his oatmeal smoothies everyday! 

TLDR: eat more fibre and antioxidants! 

Digestion Support 

When your digestion isn’t at its peak performance, it could potentially lead to gut bacteria imbalance, therefore potentially disrupting your skin health. The purpose of our digestion is to break down large food particles into smaller food particles so our gut cells can absorb it into our bloodstream, but if our food particles aren’t broken down enough, it could potentially lead to the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. This is an issue because gut bacteria should only be found in the large intestine. 

If gut bacteria overgrows in the small intestine, this could lead to gas, bloat, and changes to bowel movements (Achufusi, Ted George O et al., 2020) - which can look a lot like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These gut bacteria changes could also increase someone's risk for developing food intolerances and sensitivities (Caminero, Alberto et al., 2019), nutrient deficiencies (Losurdo, Giuseppe et al., 2020), and skin issues. So, mindfully chew and taste food to help start the digestion process in the mouth. And, don’t eat while stressed or busy doing something, as this may disrupt optimal digestion!

ESSENTIAL SKIN NUTRIENTS 

Nutrient Deficiencies & Skin

Food is the main source of nutrients that our body and skin need to function properly. When we are deficient in certain nutrients, that’s where we may experience different skin issues. 

For example, science has shown that people with acne show Vitamin D deficiency (Lim, Seul-Ki et al., 2016) and Zinc deficiency (Yee, Brittany E et al., 2020). Similarly, people with eczema show Vitamin D deficiency (Wei J, Ji J, S, 2005) and Iron deficiency (Rhew, Kiyon, and Jung Mi Oh., 2019). So yes, it is important to have a nutrient dense diet for your skin to perform at its best! 

Want to start taking supplements? It’s always a good idea to speak to a doctor and get necessary labs completed before you start on your own. From Dr. B’s experience, a lot of people who start taking supplement without the supervision of doctor tend to take either too low of a dose (don’t see results) or too high of a dose (could negatively affect your health) , take supplements that could worsen pre-existing condition, or take supplements that interact with other medications they are taking. A good motto to follow is Dr. B’s: TEST NOT GUESS. 


Last but not least, as much as your diet can help support your skin health, your lifestyle plays a big part as well. As we’ve mentioned before, stress (physical and mental) can affect your skin health as well. If you haven’t read the journal already, here it is. So simply remember that everything is connected and everything in you is connected. Don’t only tackle the symptom, but find the root cause and start there. 

 

 

SOURCES:

Clark, Ashley K et al. “Edible Plants and Their Influence on the Gut Microbiome and Acne.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 18,5 1070. 17 May. 2017, doi:10.3390/ijms18051070

Reddel, Sofia et al. “Gut microbiota profile in children affected by atopic dermatitis and evaluation of intestinal persistence of a probiotic mixture.” Scientific reports vol. 9,1 4996. 21 Mar. 2019, doi:10.1038/s41598-019-41149-6

Searle, Tamara et al. “Rosacea and the gastrointestinal system.” The Australasian journal of dermatology vol. 61,4 (2020): 307-311. doi:10.1111/ajd.13401

Hidalgo-Cantabrana, C et al. “Gut microbiota dysbiosis in a cohort of patients with psoriasis.” The British journal of dermatology vol. 181,6 (2019): 1287-1295. doi:10.1111/bjd.17931

Chambers, Edward S et al. “Role of Gut Microbiota-Generated Short-Chain Fatty Acids in Metabolic and Cardiovascular Health.” Current nutrition reports vol. 7,4 (2018): 198-206. doi:10.1007/s13668-018-0248-8

Reddel, Sofia et al. “Gut microbiota profile in children affected by atopic dermatitis and evaluation of intestinal persistence of a probiotic mixture.” Scientific reports vol. 9,1 4996. 21 Mar. 2019, doi:10.1038/s41598-019-41149-6

Li, Jin et al. “Akkermansia Muciniphila Protects Against Atherosclerosis by Preventing Metabolic Endotoxemia-Induced Inflammation in Apoe-/- Mice.” Circulation vol. 133,24 (2016): 2434-46. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.115.019645

Roopchand, Diana E et al. “Dietary Polyphenols Promote Growth of the Gut Bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila and Attenuate High-Fat Diet-Induced Metabolic Syndrome.” Diabetes vol. 64,8 (2015): 2847-58. doi:10.2337/db14-1916

Anhê, Fernando F et al. “A polyphenol-rich cranberry extract protects from diet-induced obesity, insulin resistance and intestinal inflammation in association with increased Akkermansia spp. population in the gut microbiota of mice.” Gut vol. 64,6 (2015): 872-83. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2014-307142

Achufusi, Ted George O et al. “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: Comprehensive Review of Diagnosis, Prevention, and Treatment Methods.” Cureus vol. 12,6 e8860. 27 Jun. 2020, doi:10.7759/cureus.8860

Caminero, Alberto et al. “Mechanisms by which gut microorganisms influence food sensitivities.” Nature reviews. Gastroenterology & hepatology vol. 16,1 (2019): 7-18. doi:10.1038/s41575-018-0064-z

Losurdo, Giuseppe et al. “The Influence of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth in Digestive and Extra-Intestinal Disorders.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 21,10 3531. 16 May. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijms21103531

Lim, Seul-Ki et al. “Comparison of Vitamin D Levels in Patients with and without Acne: A Case-Control Study Combined with a Randomized Controlled Trial.” PloS one vol. 11,8 e0161162. 25 Aug. 2016, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161162

Yee, Brittany E et al. “Serum zinc levels and efficacy of zinc treatment in acne vulgaris: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Dermatologic therapy vol. 33,6 (2020): e14252. doi:10.1111/dth.14252

Wei J, Ji J, S: Association of Serum Vitamins with Eczema in US Adults (NHANES 2005–2006). Dermatology 2020;236:179-182. doi: 10.1159/000502642

Rhew, Kiyon, and Jung Mi Oh. “Association between atopic disease and anemia in pediatrics: a cross-sectional study.” BMC pediatrics vol. 19,1 455. 25 Nov. 2019, doi:10.1186/s12887-019-1836-5

 

 

DISCLAIMER: THIS POST DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AS MEDICAL ADVICE. THIS POST IS NOT MEANT TO TREAT, CURE, PREVENT, OR DIAGNOSE CONDITIONS OR DISEASES; AND IS MEANT FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. AS ALWAYS, PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TRYING ANY NEW TREATMENTS OR SUPPLEMENTS.

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